Building a successful small business at the Jersey Shore requires the ability to navigate two distinct sales seasons: summer and the tourist season, and winter with the local, non-tourist crowd. If you want a great example of a business that has managed to adeptly toe the line here, I refer you to Point Pleasant Beach-based Stella e Luna, an upscale gift shop and art gallery.
The genesis of Stella e Luna is the husband-and-wife team of Jim and Lauren Inzero, who relocated from Maryland in 2001 to start the store. Lauren had ties to the area as one of her relatives, Aunt Stella, was part of a family-owned local department store, which is where people did their shopping before the advent of strip malls and the like. In fact, part of the name of the store is in tribute to Aunt Stella as Stella e Luna means “stars and moon” in Italian, a tribute to Jim’s proud and strong Italian heritage.
Jim was formally trained as an artist at The Maryland Institute Collage of Art, and the top portion of this 2,000-square foot store is where his art studio and gallery features his works year-round. Lauren attended Penn State and studied graphic design.
Together the two had a good sense of what design and home interior decorations would work, so Stella e Luna features home furnishings, jewelry, and clothing & accessories among its wares.
A key factor in Jim and Lauren’s success (in addition to their skill set and management savvy) is recognizing that customization and personalizing is important to their customers, whether in the form of a specifically-tailored sign, baby sweater or engraved jewelry.
The summer season ensures a steady flow of traffic, and in general, sales are easier to come by during this time. When the tourists leave, the locals come out to shop, and Jim and Lauren make it enticing for them. They offer weekly themed specials such as their “10 and 10” week where a customer gets 10 percent off an item and 10 percent is donated to a worthy charitable cause. In this instance, the beneficiary is the NJ Sharing Network, which is a non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization committed to saving and enhancing lives through the miracle of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
In fact, promotions with a charitable theme are a staple at the store: During the Winter Holiday Season, for instance, a large basket of items is raffled off, with proceeds again going to worthy, local charitable causes.
Jim and Lauren employ a staff of eight to 10 people who greatly enjoy the atmosphere of the store, where two special and distinctive four-legged friends can often be found as well: Chloe, a 14-year old Labradoodle, and Maggie, an 11-year old Goldendoodle.
Congratulations to Stella e Luna for all the success they’ve had at the Jersey Shore since 2001. To learn more about them visit their Facebook page.
Stella e Luna is just one of 20,000 companies that comprise NJBIA’s membership, which is very diverse with representation from an amazingly large and wide spectrum of fields, industries and professions. Look for more unique stories about NJBIA members in future issues of “Beyond 10 West Lafayette,” NJBIA’s membership blog.